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Monday, June 2, 2008

The Best and The Worst!

Sleeping last night was really cool; not so much temperature wise but sleeping inside the mosquito net was like sleeping inside a canopy bed that has a silk enclosure. Once the lights were out it was completely, 100% black! You could not see a thing but you could hear all kinds of animal noises which was awesome! I had wanted to go outside from my sliding door to see the sky but when I shined a flashlight out through the glass there were hundreds of mosquitoes that flocked to the light so I decided I would stay IN!

I slept fairly well except I woke up even earlier than my 5:40 alarm for fear of oversleeping and missing the morning game drive. I’m sure glad I didn’t miss it! Today has been the best and worst so far!

We headed out at 6:30am just in time to watch the sunrise. I was gorgeous. We first came across a pack of Hyenas. There were adults and babies and the babies were SO cute! They were very curious about us too. One of the babies started nursing at its mother and she did not look very happy when another Hyena approached them! There were a few that even ventured in the road right in front of us!

Our goal for today was to especially see Giraffe. Well, our driver seemed to know exactly where to go and we found Giraffe and Zebra! There seems to be a ton of Zebras as they are migrating already whereas the Wildebeest don’t start their big migration for a few more weeks.

We saw 5 Giraffe and countless Zebra. The Giraffe are so elegant! We also came across a Buffalo that was extremely interested in us! He just stared us down. I learned that they are actually the most dangerous animal out here!

Dickson thought it would be good to go down to the river and see what was happening there. On the way we saw Jackals, Wildebeest, Topi Antelope, and Impalas. When we got to the river we saw 7 Crocodiles!!! We also saw thousands, yes THOUSANDS of Zebra that looked like they wanted to cross the river to our side. Dickson said that it was too cold for them at the moment but they may cross later so we moved on. We saw a bunch of Vultures and some Storks so we thought there may be a lion around because the Vultures would have come for leftovers. We continued down the road and came across a Lion!! He was standing in the grass but by the time Dickson got around to the closer side he had already laid down. We were snapping away pictures and then Dickson went in REALLY close for us. I was standing up with my head up out of the top of the safari bus taking video of this magnificent creature when all of a sudden he stood up and started walking towards us. Dickson turned on the jeep and started backing up before I could even sit down! The Lion passed us and started walking down the road. Evidently he was looking to join up with some other Lions. When he stood up we noticed that he had been wounded on his back legs, most likely from a Buffalo. He walked down the road, walked very close to some other animals but they did not run; they may have sensed he was hurt.

We followed him down the road and came across the 4 other Lions in his pride and one of them seemed to have just finished eating his kill. There was blood in the grass and he was cleaning himself up. It was amazing!

By this time I was conserving battery power because I forgot to charge my battery last night! I charged the laptop and cell phone and forgot the camera battery! One of the other people in our car loaned me his digital camera because he’s doing mostly video.

All of a sudden Dickson says we have to go, he evidently heard on the radio that the Zebras were crossing the river! We hightailed it down to the river and we saw the most spectacular thing! All those thousands of Zebra I mentioned before were lined up for what seemed like miles all waiting to cross the river. (listen closely to the Zebra, they sound like dogs)

There were a few Wildebeest mixed in as well. However, the Crocodiles were moving in! There were 7 crocs staking out the area but the Zebras kept on coming. They were making noises that sounded like dogs barking from afar and they were extremely loud! It was unbelievable watching this migration as it does not happen every day! The Crocodiles kept moving closer and a few times took snaps at the Zebras and Wildebeest but we didn’t know why they didn’t get one; they could have. We figured it was because they were not hungry. We watched until all 7 Crocodiles moved in so menacingly that the remaining Zebra retreated!

By this time it was 8:50 and we had to head back before we were late. We came to an area where we saw 2 other safari vehicles from our hotel and Dickson said to take our things that we were going to walk from here. If I hadn’t been warned before I would have thought him crazy but I remember one of the travel agents spoiling the surprise. We were ushered into the woods towards the river and a Masai warrior handed us hand towels to wash our hands. A little further down we were poured champagne and we walked a bit further and a huge Hippo pool opened in front of us. They had an entire buffet breakfast for us down by the Hippo pool! They even had an omelet and fresh pancake station! It was really cool eating while watching the Hippo. Some of them were very playful and they live quite happily beside the 2 enormous Crocodiles!

One of the guys in my group asked me to take a photo of him with the Masai Warrior who was there. He held the spear and I photographed him with it. After, he offered to take a picture of me with the spear. I held the spear and after the picture jokingly didn’t give it back right away. So the Masai Warrior asked me if I wanted to throw it! He showed me how and I said sure!!! There is an arrowhead point at the bottom and a paddle-like part at the top. He told me the top was sharp. I raised my arm back to throw it and all of a sudden realized how heavy the top was. I threw the spear but the top part dropped down and rode along my finger as it went forward!!!! I saw stars, pain, blood and of course could not contain the tears. The top part acts like a blade which I did not realize and it sliced across my forefinger. (that top part is what got me!) We went right over to the buffet table and they poured spirits (alcohol) all over my hand (OUCH!) It would not stop bleeding so we wrapped it and headed back to the lodge. Fortunately, everyone had finished breakfast and that was the end of the morning game drive anyway.

We got back to the lodge and I had to wait for the nurse. When he arrived he took me to my room and cleaned me up. First we washed off all the blood around it and the other fingers, then he treated it with betadine. Fortunately, for some reason I brought triple antibiotic ointment with me so he used that as well and bandaged my finger hoping to stop the bleeding. A huge chunk of skin was sliced but fortunately it formed a “flap” so I had immediately pushed the flap back over the wound hoping it would heal well. Leonard, the nurse, said it will probably heal better without the flap but said we could leave it for now. What hurt worse was a small injury right above the big one where the spear had broken the skin less but had bruised it. It was turning black and that is still what hurts the most right now. Those of you who know me well know how fast I type but I can’t type well on the laptop and without my RIGHT forefinger, this has taken me well over and hour to type!

After the nurse fixed me up I decided to hit the pool for some nice sun. I sat out there for about an hour and a half and the sun was SO hot! I went in for lunch and about 20 minutes later I noticed it was raining. No, I take that back, POURING! They have an umbrella stand outside with umbrellas for guests to use so I came back to my room. I was SO disappointed not to be able to go back to the pool but even worse because they said it could rain the rest of the day which would compromise the afternoon game drive.

I came back to the room and decided to do my writing. I am now looking out over a beautiful sunny Mara again and it is time to get ready for the afternoon game drive!!!!!

The afternoon game drive started with a different vehicle and two additional people. This vehicle had a canvas roof instead of a pop-up top. We headed out and came across the Hyenas from this morning but there were only 3 babies. We started to drive and then saw the mommy who was nursing one of the babies. She saw us come closer and gave us a nasty menacing, protective look. She was blind in one eye most likely from a fight. She finally got up much to the baby’s dismay!

We moved on and our mission of this drive was to find Elephant, Leopard and Rhino, two of which we hadn’t seen yet; and the Elephants we hadn’t gotten very close to. We passed by two Impalas who were doing a mating dance so we stopped to watch them. It was a lot of fun to watch! The female would start to run away, the male would be right behind her, both tails would be wagging quickly, if she stopped he stopped but would not try to mount her! He only mounted her while she was moving but he wouldn’t stay on her for long! We tried to stay and watch the “complete” act but it was taking too long so we moved on! Lol

Finally we all agreed to move on and not stop unless it was for one of the three we were after! Somehow, and I still can’t figure out how, Dickson saw the Elephants in the distance and when I say “in the distance” we’re talking at least 4 kilometers away! It took some time to get there but as usual, he was great! He drove off the road through the grass, dodging giant rocks and drove to the Elephants. They kept moving, most likely to where they would spend the night. Dickson drove in a big loop so he could get in front of them. It was a large herd of 14 including males, females and babies. We stopped in front of them and they came right towards us. I learned that Elephants do not like noise so we had to be extremely quiet so as not to upset them. We just stayed there and they all came around the car and kept on going. We were SO close! It was amazing!

When they had finally moved past us, we started to head back because we were really far from the lodge. We saw more Zebras, Impalas and Topi’s along the way. It was getting dark very early because it was still so cloudy. I had been hoping to get a night game driver because I didn’t want to spend the extra $80 for it. I didn’t know what I was wishing for!!!! As we were headed back to the lodge, another car came from behind us and Dickson pulled over; we had a FLAT! Now, you need to know that you’re not allowed out of your vehicle in the Mara. If you are caught you get banned from ever coming back. Well, Dickson got out and some men from the other vehicle helped him get the tire off. The spare on our vehicle would not budge so they took the spare from the other one. That one wouldn’t go on! Fortunately the vehicles all have dispatch radios in them so they can call for help if they get lost or if something like this happens! We all had to get out of the vehicle so they could jack it up to put the spare on. Here we were outside the vehicle finally and not an animal in sight!!!!! When the tried to get the spare tire on it would not go on properly so Dickson radioed for help and another vehicle had to come for us. We actually got a little of a night game drive as I had wished! LOL We didn’t get back to the Lodge until 7pm. I had a 7:00 appointment with the nurse to change my bandages but I hadn’t had time to take a shower yet so when he showed up I had to ask him to come back. I showered and dressed and then he came back. My finger was feeling better until he undressed it and put more betadyne on it and re-wrapped it! It is black and blue towards the top and any pressure on the finger at all hurts!

I went to dinner after that and when I finished I downloaded the photos from the person who loaned me a camera this morning when my battery had died!

I’m not sitting outside but the fire has gone out of the pit and it is windy and quite cold. I would like to go to bed but I need to check in online for my flight tomorrow so I am not sure what I will do. I do know that I will write at some time tomorrow. I can’t believe that two weeks have gone by already. I have really enjoyed this country!

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